Simpson’s wrestling team improved this week between Tuesday’s first home meet and Saturday’s Coe Turkey Invitational.
On Tuesday, the Storm fell to No. 5 Cornell in their first home meet with a 28-16 loss but improved from last year’s 42-0 defeat.
Head coach Clint Manny said the team’s improvement is a good sign for the rest of the season.
“Obviously it was a vast improvement from last year when we lost the match 42-0,” said Manny.
Taking the spotlight for Simpson in the home meet against Cornell was sophomore Spencer Courier, at 133 pounds, who defeated Tigue Snyder, ranked No. 10 in the nation according to d3wrestle.com.
Other key Storm performances included a 14-5 major decision for junior Jeff Sand over Ray Feliz at 141 pounds and a pin by junior Cory Stratton over Zach Wilson in 4:50 at 149.
Sophomore Justin Bruce had the same impression of Cornell as he did last year.
“They (Cornell) are a ranked opponent so they have very good kids,” Bruce said. “The fact that we wrestled them close doesn’t mean they got worse but our team is getting that much better.”
Those victories were not enough to ensure a win for Simpson but showed that the team has improved from last year.
“Overall, I think it was a good experience for our guys to see that they can compete with the top teams in the conference,” Manny said. “The thing that hurt us the most in the dual was our lack of depth in the upper weights. If we can continue to add depth to our upper half of the lineup our team will see much more success on a team level.”
During Saturday’s invitational, Courier and Stratton both made it to the final round. Courier had a 15-4 victory over Missouri Baptist’s Esmond Ford and beat Coe’s Jordan Westphal 5-1 in the semifinals, but fell 10-8 to North Iowa Area Community College’s Kirk Sallis.
One of the most notable victories was Stratton’s 5:40 pin of Cornell’s Jacob Schwebke in the semifinals. Schwebke was ranked ninth in the most recent National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) Individual Poll.
“I was really impressed with the way Cory and Spencer wrestled throughout the day,” Manny said. “Both guys beat ranked opponents in the semi-finals and they each wrestled at a high level throughout the day.”
Bruce came home with a fourth-place finish at 174 pounds. He defeated Iowa Western’s Isaac Olson but lost 16-6 to Iowa Lakes’ Thomas Moman in the consolation championship.
Sand has high hopes for the team for the rest of the season.
“Are we satisfied? No,” Sand said. “All of us have plenty to improve at, and we have to keep plugging away for the end of the season. That is when we will peak. Everything along the way is a stepping stone towards making it to the national tournament.”
Simpson wrestling will be making a statement these next few months as they roll forward in their season.
“I think the campus will start hearing more about the wrestling team with the squad we have out now,” Bruce said.
The Storm’s next meet will take place at Luther on Dec. 3.